New Year’s Eve party on board ALS Fauna

New Year Eve

My 16th voyage at sea started on the 27th of December in the port of Singapore with a new vessel to join, belonging to a new company. I had been looking forward to joining ALS Fauna since the beginning of my husband’s contract (the month of October), but, little by little, week by week, my joining was postponed due to various reasons. Finally, when all approvals were received and everything was prepared for my journey – including documents, papers, plane tickets and booking accommodation – our good vessel was delayed in the port of Durban and the arrival in Singapore delayed as well. So, after spending 4 days alone – including Christmas – in Singapore, waiting for the vessel’s arrival, I was finally able to board the ship two days after Christmas.

Holidays and celebrations are meant to be spent at home, surrounded by family and friends, but seafarers have to adjust to their life at sea and find the strength to enjoy beautiful moments like these ones even if they are thousands of miles away from home.

In the Christian world, Christmas is the most important of all holidays and celebrations. It’s that special day of the year when everybody needs to feel loved and cherished, when everyone should feel like belonging to a family, sharing love, joy and happiness and receiving them, at the same time. It’s that special day when nobody should be left alone because loneliness destroys the spirit of Christmas, ruining its divine meaning, bringing in sadness, nostalgia and even tears.

On board a vessel, Christmas can never bring the same spirit of joy and happiness you always find in the safe and loving environment of your home, but you have to find a way to enjoy the day as much as you can. You only need some friends to spend some time with, a glass of good wine to enjoy and some beautiful Christmas carols to listen to. And, since your real family is not by your side, you have to be grateful for the other family you have on your vessel – your friends and colleagues.  During your voyage, they are the ones you spend your time with, sharing difficult moments, heavy seas, busy working nights, but pleasant moments as well.  Things are getting even better if you are surrounded by a bunch of merry-go-lucky guys who are ready to throw even a party to celebrate the event.

On most vessels, Christmas is celebrated with a special dinner or lunch during which all officers and crew are spending time together, socializing, relaxing and having fun. If time and duty allow it, Christmas can be celebrated with an outside barbeque, accompanied by music, karaoke and guitar playing. Sometimes, even Santa Claus can visit the ship and bring smiles and presents to everybody on board.

New Year Eve

– Christmas party on board HS Columbia, 2016 –

New Year Eve

– Santa Claus on board HS Puccini, 2011 –

Something similar had happened on board ALS Fauna, but with a slight different scenario – due to the vessel’s delay in Durban and late arrival in Singapore, which prevented Santa from joining the ship on time

Nevertheless, Christmas on board did not pass unnoticed. Preparations had started a few weeks in advance – with decorations around the ship and Christmas carols in the kitchen.

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

One day before Christmas, special dishes were prepared by the cook (with the help of captain, deck cadet and some other members of the crew).

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

– Captain and the Cook –

Few hours before the Christmas Eve dinner, most of the crew got involved in setting the tables and chairs and decorating the Officers’ Messroom, where the party was held.

So, while I was experiencing the first (and hopefully, the last) Christmas alone on the streets of Singapore, the officers and crew of ALS Fauna had their share of fun, enjoying good food, pleasant conversations, music and karaoke.

For me, spending Christmas in Singapore was something I will never forget and hope to experience again (but not alone). Surrounded by happy people belonging to different religions, races and colors, I realized (again) how lucky I am for all the Christmases I spent so far – in different environments – and for all the others which are to come.  Christmas has the same meaning for all the Christian world – regardless of the outside temperatures – but you can only feel its divine spirit when you have your loved ones by your side. And I didn’t.

So, no matter how hard I tried to find the Christmas spirit while walking on Raffles Street or on the colorful island of Sentosa, I couldn’t breathe the spirit of Christmas, at least not the one I was used to.

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

But, I knew that I would catch a glimpse of it as soon as I would step on the vessel, although with a few days of delay. And, so it was. Moreover, I was so happy to be Santa’s representative on board and deliver the long expected presents.

In my country, during the communist times, our leader wanted to destroy the religious meaning of Christmas and he succeeded in some ways. Christmas trees were very difficult to find before the 24th of December, Santa Claus was called Frosty Man and he usually brought presents to the kids on New Year’s Eve. In some other countries in the world, Santa Claus is still called by different names and he brings presents on the 6th or on the 31st of December. So, ‘Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year’, cherished and loved by different nations around the world and celebrated in different ways, as well.

As I couldn’t attend the Christmas celebration on board, I was very happy to take part in preparing the New Year’s Eve party, 3 days after I came on the vessel.

ALS Fauna was underway to China and expecting some bad weather while crossing the Luzon Strait – due to a tropical depression and a typhoon which were both just a little ahead of our route.

New Year Eve

So, in order to fully enjoy the party and for the safe keeping of glasses, plates and bottles on the tables, we had to ‘advance’ one day and celebrate the coming of 2019 before reaching the Luzon Strait.

For this event, captain, me and Peter, the deck cadet, put our skills and imagination to work and managed to prepare some special dishes – salads, cakes – bringing some new flavors (and colors) to the very tasty dishes prepared by our cook.

All the other Filipinos on board brought their own contribution to the final arrangements and preparation required for the party – fixing the tables and chairs, decorating the walls, preparing the musical equipment, bringing the food from the galley and the beer from the freezer.

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

At 8 o’clock, when all the European officers arrived in the Officers Mess room, everything was ready to the last detail – the food, the drinks, the setting of the tables, the decorations and the music.

The food was displayed as an open buffet and included different types of dishes to choose from – a few salads, salmon, shrimps, beef, pork roulade, stuffed eggs, rice, sausages, garlic bread and cakes.

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

Everything was very tasty and highly appreciated by everyone.

At 10 o’clock, I had to play the role of Santa’s elf and deliver the presents to each and everyone on board (we thank the company Asiatic Lloyd for making this possible), according to the lucky numbers they had extracted earlier, from the bingo machine.

New Year Eve

New Year Eve

After that, the hours went by at a high speed rate. We welcomed the New Year with cheers and smiles, raising our glasses to wish each other ‘happy new year’ in 4 different languages and enjoying a piece of cake before some of us retired to their cabins for resting (as they were on duty in the early morning).

New Year Eve

Until 2 o’clock – when we went to bed – the party continued with some funny and interesting games I had never played before and some karaoke singing.

New Year Eve

Next evening, as the vessel was moving and shaking its way through the Luzon Strait, we had the chance of celebrating the real coming of the New Year, in the Crew Recreation Room, together with all the Filipinos. Until 2 in the morning, we had a lot of fun playing bingo and different types of charades which involved most of the Filipinos and only two Europeans, us. I had never imagined myself laughing till tears came out of my eyes, while playing charades and mime games on a vessel, but I am most happy I had the chance of doing this.

So, I had a good start of the year. Being at sea – together with my husband and surrounded by beautiful and good hearted people – is all I want for now … and for the next months to come. I hope this year will bring us health, joy and a few more steps closer to accomplishing our dreams. I wish this to all of you out there – seafarers or not.

Stay healthy, positive and never stop chasing your dreams! Expand your mind and explore the immense beauty that surrounds you! Find joy in small things and smile often! Be kind to people around you and be open to new challenges – try a new food, take up a hobby, travel to new places, talk to strangers and make friends everywhere you go!  Never be afraid to play and have fun like a kid! May all your wish come true in 2019 and in all the years to come!

 

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2 Responses to New Year’s Eve party on board ALS Fauna

  1. Tracy says:

    such a heartwarming blog <3 thank you so much Madame!

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